Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Got Organization?

If you looked up the word “organization” in the dictionary, you would definitely not find my picture next to it. Would your picture be there?

I don’t think any of us ever achieve our ideal amount of organization in our households. Even if one is organized by nature I am willing to bet there are still areas of struggle. The expression that “a women’s work is never done,” is doubly true for a homeschooling mother.

Enter The 2009 Schoolhouse Planner to save—yea, even organize-- the day (and the week, the month, and the year!). From creative clutter-bugs like me, to the ultra Type-A personality, this planner offers something for everyone!

There is so much helpful information and forms in this planner, I can’t even fathom being able to use it all. With 375 pages, this baby is brimming with helpful ideas, forms, charts, information and even recipes. The people at The Old Schoolhouse Magazine (obviously homeschoolers themselves) thought of everything. Sort of like the perfect pairing of chocolate with coffee, both creative and organized minds of various contributors have come deliciously together to offer us a really well rounded planner.

When you order the planner from the online store of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, you will receive it in a downloadable file to save on your computer. If you actually received a hardcopy of the planner, you would need to pay a lot more than the $39 price that the planner sells for.

My first thought, when I realized it was downloadable, was that I was going to have to spend another $40 on ink just to print it out! Not so. First of all, you can actually keep the entire thing, and use it, on your computer, if you choose. The calendars and various forms (from chore charts, to menu planning and bible reading) can all be typed on right there on your computer. If you like to have a hard copy of any of these things, you can also print them out and keep them in a binder or whatnot. It is very easy to customize to your personal preference.

So, just how organized am I going to become by using this planner? Well, that remains to be seen, but the potential to become the ultra-organized-super-homeschooling-mom is enormous! Let’s take a look at all the goodies stuffed into these pages!

First of all, there is a section of At-a-Glance calendars, clear through the year 2012, after which there is a large monthly calendar for the 2009-2010 school year that you can write/type in whatever events and plans you have. With each month, comes random but helpful topics that will aid you in teaching, or give a bit of helpful info such as: The Thirteen Colonies, Decimal tips, Emergency plans (in case of fire, tornado etc.), Getting into College and more. Each of these helpful sections are followed by links (at the click of your mouse) to more resources should you want to buy more materials or learn more information. For instance, the section on weather and clouds (September’s topic), has links to pictures of the various cloud formations that you can access right there. Furthermore, each month comes with a couple of really good recipes!

But the calendar is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to talk about and this review is rather long already. Let me just inventory some of the things you’ll find to help with your homeschooling adventure. (By the way, the Table of Contents is nicely set up to allow you to choose the section you want by clicking your mouse on a topic, saving scrolling through pages you aren’t necessarily looking for at the moment).

There are many miscellaneous helpful charts on things such as metric conversions, U.S. Presidents and their wives, a history timeline, famous artists and composers, and more. These also come with links to websites that can tell you more about the subjects. I like the one on important U.S. documents with links to look at them right then and there.

Next the planner offers more homeschooling forms than you can shake a pencil at. Pages for goals, curriculum, report cards, test scores, high school transcripts and more. There are daily and weekly schedules to fill out for working with one child on up to five children. (I suppose if you have more than that you can print out the form for five kiddos and add the other form with the number of kids you are lacking). There are forms for field trip planning, pages to print off for nature journals, handwriting practice and more. I had to laugh that there was even a page for “Unschooling” plans, which kind of seems like an oxymoron in a huge planner like this! There’s not enough space to tell you all the forms available; I don’t think anything was left out.

The last section contains a myriad of household forms that would basically condense anything you already have in this realm into one convenient place. From emergency contact numbers to an address book, from menu planning and chore charts to garden plans and pet health forms, these sheets round out anything you could ever want to get all of your “ducks in a row”.

I think the only negative side of this enormously helpful planner would be feeling obliged to use it all. That thought overwhelms me! However, I know that the point is not that it all must be used; rather it is available if I need it!

So, let me wrap this up with a bit of homeschooling wisdom that I must remind myself of from time to time (now would be one of those times). Don’t be a slave to your curriculum (or in this case, your planner), let the curriculum/planner work for you and serve the needs of your family. I think that all personality types, across the spectrum can get as much or as little as they need from this well thought out 2009 Schoolhouse Planner! If you want to check it out, here’s the link: http://www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=191_193&products_id=10450

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.